Waimea Ocean Film Festival Line Up Showcases Nearly 60 Films


“Humpback Whales-Mom and Calf”Humpback Whales” a film being shown at the Waimea Ocean Film Festival. ©2015 MacGillivray Freeman Films And Pacific Life. Cinematographer-HowardHall

When you live in Hawaii, you have a natural connection to the ocean. You care about its health, you are fascinated by the creatures that dwell there and you find yourself wanting to share with others, so they have the same respect and love for it that you do. One person who has taken her love of the ocean and made a stellar event to share stories through film on the Big Island is Tania Howard, the Executive Director of the Waimea Ocean Film Festival being held in various venues from Waimea to the Four Seasons Resort, January 1-8, 2016.

I asked Tania to tell us in her own words about the Festival:

We have a very exciting line-up for the 2016 festival, with nearly 60 films and extraordinary guest speakers, filmmakers and artists joining us this year.


Teddy Tucker: Adventure is My Life

Greg Stone, PhD, executive vice president of Conservation International, will be here to speak after a number of films in which he is featured and at a Breakfast Talk. He is considered one of the world’s leading authorities on marine conservation policy and ocean health issues. The film Teddy Tucker: Adventure is My Life, which features a very young Greg Stone alongside treasure hunter Teddy Tucker, is a fun one. Dr. Stone also speaks following the showing of Ocean Stories: Greg Stone, about his life and work, and Paradise Found: Phoenix Islands, which talks about the Phoenix Islands Protected Area, which he was instrumental in helping to establish – at the time, it was the largest marine protected area in the world. M. Sanjayan, PhD, an Emmy nominated news contributor and co-executive vice president of Conservation International, returns to the festival to share clips from his coverage for the PBS and BBC production of Big Blue Live, the first live television show featuring ocean wildlife. A dynamic speaker, Sanjayan has been a favorite festival guest. He will also introduce Of Ants and Men, when it first plays on Saturday, to share from his interview with EO Wilson this fall.

Garrett McNamara, who holds the world record for the largest wave surfed, credited at 78 feet, joins the festival to answers questions following his film, Nazaré Calling as well as Deeper and Behind the Lines, which captures his record-winning ride. McNamara also has an unofficial ride of wave estimated to be around 100 feet.

Corporate keynote speaker, and winner of the 2010 Mavericks International, Chris Bertish will be here from South African to answer questions following his film Ocean Driven and for a booksigning of his new book, Stoked! Bertish is flown in to speak at corporate events all over the world, and is gearing up to attempt a crossing of the Atlantic Ocean by standup paddle board.

Waimea’s very own, nine-time world bodyboard champion, waterman Mike Stewart answer’s questions after the showing of Come Hell or High Water, in which he is featured.

In honor of Hōkūle’a’s current Worldwide Voyage (WWV), The Voyager Exhibit features photographs of the 2015 voyage, taken by the ʻŌiwi TV photographers on board*, in a down-to-the-wire printing and mounting of this very current exhibit. It was a little nail biting, as we were just able to get the raw image files barely in time to the lab to be ready for the Festival opening. The exhibit will open with a ceremony at 4pm on Jan 1st.

The Voyager Exhibit includes the 8×13-foot world map developed in collaboration between the festival and Na Kalai Waʻa a few years ago to highlight the WWV route and bring the magnitude of the expedition to life. It took some effort to find the map, and I’m thrilled every time I see it on the wall, filled out in detail.

Hōkūle’a left the Pacific Ocean for the first time this year, in a momentous sail from New Zealand, to Australia, Bali, Mauritius and finally Cape Town, South Africa, and there will be a number of talks about this voyage throughout the event. ‘Imiloa will bring a portable dome theatre for a star show and talk about wayfinding.




Unbranded is a spectacular story of Texas cowboy Ben Masters, who brings a string of wild mustangs 3,000 miles from Mexico to Canada. He and filmmaker Phillip Baribeau look forward to seeing Parker, Kahua and the other ranches here.

O‘ahu-based filmmaker and former Miss Hawai‘i Filipina Maribel Apuye joins the festival to answer questions following her film A Sakada Story, as does Molokaʻi filmmaker Matt Yamashita with his film about Halawa Valley. Matt also worked with John Antonelli on the film Roots of ‘Ulu, which looks at the role of ‘ulu in Hawaiian culture, and it’s potential as a food source, both here and elsewhere. There are a number of people in Kohala who supported the effort.

Bud Browne Film Archives’ curator Anna Trent Moore presents the first annual Bud Browne Surf Film Award during the festival on January 4. This will be an annual award they will give out each year – it’s quite an honor they chose the festival as the venue to make the award.

TheBatManOfMexico_Mexican biologist Dr. Rodrigo A. Medellín, The Bat Man, nose to nose with a bat-1©AmyCooper

The Bat Man of Mexico

London filmmaker Tom Mustill brings a stunning BBC production, The Bat Man of Mexico, along with How To Win the Grand National. Bat Man is a great film! And, is interesting for all ages. He also made a number of award-winning films that involve dissection – one of a giant squid, which we will probably show as a TBA (to be announced) on Jan 4.

Perhaps the most important films the festival has shown are the E2 series films we will be showing this year. Narrated by Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman, these are significant films in terms of pointing towards energy solutions. These films provide insight into the three primary points of solutions  – building design, as buildings account for approximately one-third to one-half of the energy we consume, solar and wind for electrical generation, and the development of multi-modal transportation systems based around rail and pedestrians at the core. As you know, the ocean is impacted by CO2 both indirectly, through climate change and warming temperatures, as a result of the CO2 released into the atmosphere, as well as directly, through increasing acidity, as a result of the CO2 absorbed directly into the ocean.

Along these lines, the film Containment is an important film as well, looking into the question of nuclear waste in a film produced by team of from Harvard. David Holbrooke brings an edge of your seat film The Diplomat, about the life and work of his father, Richard Holbrooke, who brokered the Dayton Peace Accords, which brought peace to Bosnia. It’s an edgy, behind-the-scenes look at international diplomacy, which is fascinating, sharing the important work that Richard Holbrooke did, and imparting the lessons he hoped would be learnee, and also shares their personal story.

When Voices Meet subject Sharon Katz and producer Marilyn Cohen join the festival, with guitar in hand, sharing their incredible story of building a 500 student multi-racial choir to help bring peace and build democracy out of Apartheid.

Drew Harvell, PhD, Cornell University professor and curator of the Blaschka Marine Invertebrates collection, brings A Fragile Legacy, which discusses the role the collection is playing in helping to understand the changes occurring in the ocean. This is a very interesting and engaging film. Dr. Harvell is also a senior scientist at The Kohala Center, and spend a number of months doing research here each year, as well as a number of people from the island interviewed in the film. She’s one of the world’s leading authorities on coral reef health, and issues in terms of how changing climate and acidity might impact coral reef ecosystems.


Meru-Jimmy Chin© Renan Ozturk

Meru was just shortlisted for an Academy award, and is an exciting film to watch. Of Ants and Men is an incredibly interesting film about the life and work of biologist E.O. Wilson, who was ridiculed even by his own colleagues at Harvard for his book on sociobiology, now an accepted course of studyIt’s wonderful to watch and hear from someone who is able to think outside of the box. Landfill Harmonic is an inspiring and moving story, which speaks to how offering children even simple opportunities for enrichment and learning can change lives, even in the most adverse conditions.

Big Island-raised Alison Teal brings another episode from her series, Alison’s Adventures: Maldives.

The festival enjoys a spectacular art display this year. Mollie Hustace, HPA faculty member and director of Isaacs Art Center, offers tours and discussion of art works in the gallery. Sophie Twigg-Smith Teururai, granddaughter of noted artist William Twigg-Smith, presents a full exhibit of recent works. Sophie grew up in Hilo, and now lives in Tahiti. Her work has a rare and exceptional quality to it.

Tiffany’s Art Agency offers an exhibit based around the book Aloha Expressionism, along with book signings with many Hawai’i-island based artists present. These should be neat to attend. Print-maker Caren Loebel-Fried shares an exhibit and a demonstration on printmaking, which also should be exciting. Puako-based painter Christian Enns displays his work at the new Enns Gallery, in the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, which just opened this month. And, Bonnie Cherni will be offering origami at The Fairmont again this year Jan 1-4.

Tickets are on sale now! 

Ocean related films that our family is looking forward to watching too!

Shark GIrl Kiribati-Paradise Found OCean stories Wyland




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Meet the Author

Julie Ziemelis

Julie Ziemelis is an entrepreneur, business owner, author, blogger and vlogger in Kailua Kona. She created and moderates the “365 Things to Do in Kona” page and the Kona Newbies group on Facebook. She blogs at 365Kona.com and MoveToHawaii365.com and vlogs with her husband, Eric, at “365Hawaii” on YouTube. Julie also authored the books, “How to Move to Kona” and the “Insiders Guide to Buying Real Estate on the Big Island of Hawaii”. You will most likely find Julie in Kona hiking, running, biking, taking photos and sharing Aloha.

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